Monday, July 2, 2012

Now for some very personal, non-nail related stuff.

Screw it, I know I said I didn't want to put this out there until after the holiday but I've spent well over an hour just typing away and I know I can't hold it in and wait until Friday.

For most of last weekend (July 1st-ish) and today, my mind has been racing with all of the worst and best possible scenarios that could happen to me following my doctor's appointment on Friday. My moods have been near-violently swinging back and forth as waves of emotion wash over me and I feel terrible for my SO as he is taking the brunt of it. There is so much more to how I feel but I don't know how else to continue without sharing my history, so that is what I will do. I will share, and from the beginning.

I've added a jump if you care not read any further, but it is all there if you wish to continue.

In May of 2009, just a week or so after my 24th birthday, I was diagnosed with cancer. Quite by accident and on my lunch break, no less. I had a squamous cell carcinoma, a tumor, on my tongue. What I had mistaken for a sore caused by an accidental bite in my sleep turned out to be a cancer. A teeny tiny cancer, the size of a pencil eraser, but still a cancer. I was alone with my oral surgeon and his nurse on my lunch break and after my initial outburst of hysteria we all cried a little together. They were so sorry they couldn't have warned me to bring someone along.

See, I'd gone in for a repair of what I thought was a sore and the tissue removed during the repair was sent off for biopsy. And I'd returned for the repair of a prematurely burst stitch or two. I walked out of my doctor's office with an appointment with an otolaryngologist and a plan. I was to meet with my new surgeon, have a PET/CT scan, and line up to have my cancer cut out in a procedure called a partial glossectomy. But what I really walked out with was nothing. I felt nothing. I was in shock.

I sat in my car for the rest of my lunch break waiting for some thought to come in to my head. Nothing came so I put the word out to my closest few. If I thought I hadn't been prepared for my diagnosis, I was bowled over by the reactions to my news. How could everyone be feeling so much emotion when I felt nothing, as if I was hollow and just an empty shell? Hadn't I just freaked out in my doctor's office? I didn't cry again until just before my surgery.

My dad flew out for my surgery, the procedure came and went, and he took care of me while I was an invalid. You might not think oral surgery would incapacitate someone, but I had a part of my tongue cut off and samples taken from the very tip of my tongue to where it attaches in your throat. My tongue swelled up to fill my entire mouth, my jaws were stiff and painful from being ratcheted wide open, and my lungs. God, my lungs were in so much pain from the intubation. I was on a steady diet of liquids and then soft, flavorless foods for weeks.

Moving forward.

After recovery I had mild speech issues but luckily not enough tissue had been taken to turn my speaking ability into a disability. But I had been close. Half of my tongue was now without taste or temperature sensation and I could only control 75% of what I had left. It slowly got better, feeling and muscle control returned as my nerve endings re-grew. But psychologically I was damaged. I had an extremely difficult time coming to terms with my life as I now knew it, as a cancer "survivor."

I quote survivor because I didn't feel like I survived anything. How could I compare my relatively minor procedure, no chemo or radiation therapy, to those suffering far worse fates? I couldn't, not for a very long time at least. To be completely honest, I faced my death and I am not afraid. I will die, we will all die. What I fear is disfigurement and disability. Not just for pure vanity, but because the reality of my disease is slow and painful. I won't go in to details but suffice it to say that quality of life is severely reduced. I've finally come to terms with what happened to me and all that comes along with it.

Not only have I come to terms and accepted that my cancer is still cancer even if it is small, but I moved on. I checked in with my doctors, had a few more procedures, and then got on with my life. Now, I am set to finally graduate from university in December with my BA. I am in love with the most wonderful, considerate, and caring man I've ever met (and I've met a few stinkers). My future is unfolding before me and it is exciting, oh, the possibilities! I am happy, finally, truly happy after all the ups and downs life has sent my way.

But things never stay the same, things are never simple. Last week, around Monday or Tuesday, my scar started feeling stiff and uncomfortable as it sometimes does. Sometimes, when I am sick or dealing with a headache my tongue and scar tissue will feel tingly and stiff. It is a weird sensation but not something I am entirely unused to. But this was a little different. It didn't go away.

By Thursday my scar tissue was sore well beyond uncomfortable. Friday morning came and I was truly in pain. Saturday, lo and behold, there appears on my scar tissue white patches and angry red inflammation. Oh shit. Shit. Shit. SHIT. A new sore, similar to the very first one I ever had has shown up in just a matter of days and has only progressed to get worse and increasingly painful. Now it is Sunday and I am starting to withdraw, there isn't anything I can do until I meet with my doctor but that doesn't help really. 

I am writing this as of Monday evening, I made an appointment with my doctor for this Friday morning (possibly today if I decide to post this on Friday as I intend). I notified my family. I'm not sure what else to say about my situation other than to describe how I feel.

ANGRY. Fucking mad as shit that this is happening to me again to ruin my fucking amazing life. Other than pure hatred for what my body is doing, I feel almost nothing. It is like the start all over again. A hollow shell, a husk. Empty. Numb. Nothing that I really enjoy or that makes me happy is really doing so any longer. My joie de vivre has evaporated, poof, disappeared. I am irritable at my love for trying to make light and lift my spirits, it isn't his fault but it comes out anyway followed by tearful apologies as I try to explain what the pain I am feeling is like. It hurts to talk. It hurts to swallow. It is crushing me.

I don't want to do anything. I don't want to go to work. What the fucking what?? My job is awesome, yes it is only an internship for the summer but it is an incredible opportunity for my future and my career. But shit. Future? I don't want to think. Thinking is only taking me places I don't need to go, for now I need to retain my sanity.

Dare I say it? Might as well... painting my nails and blogging about it feels stupid. Dumb as shit. This is wrong, I know that isn't how I really feel. I love doing my nails, it is perfectly cathartic and almost meditative in the ritual. It worked perfectly to clear my mind after hours of schoolwork, now all I can hope is that it will provide the same sort of mindless comfort as I stress and worry about whether or not I have full blown cancer again. Otherwise, I will end up feeling like a dope for spending all this money and time on nail polish. 

I don't mean to demean nail blogging, I love it. While I don't have a whole lot of time to actually devote to blogging as I'd like to I still really love interacting with the members of this community. I know only a handful of people read my little corner of the nail blogosphere compared to those perfectly manicured blogs with hundreds and thousands of followers, but I love each and every one of you who take the time to read my ramblings and look at my pictures. It means the world to me. Hell, most of you found me and subscribed as readers before I ever made this blog public. Yep, I've spent all but the last month blogging without being accessible to the internets. As far as the "tubes" are concerned, my nail blog didn't exist. 

So there it is, a little piece of me. It feels as big as an elephant but really it is only a tiny bit. I wish I could put my feelings into words better, but for now this will have to do. The fervor with which I started writing has completely fallen away and I'm just spent. 


  1. I just happened across your blog while searching for an essie polish swatch, and started scanning through. I would like to say you are incredibly brave for sharing such a personal story. Congrats on your BA and I pray that your health be healed.

    1. Thank you for stopping by and checking my blog out. Amazingly, sharing my story and my feelings was incredibly cathartic and did so much to help me calm down and feel better. Blogging does a lot to help also. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers. <3

  2. I have just come across your blog and read this... I work in a hospital with many cancer pts and I have so much sympathy for you.. I really really hope youre ok!! I hate cancer. I know its a childish way of saying it, but i despise it!! You described your feelings so well... I'm rooting for you girlie!! Please let us know what the results were... I really hope it was just some minor infection... {Hugs}

    1. It isn't childish to say you hate cancer, it is the simplest, most honest way to describe it. I hate it too, with a passion. Thank you for your kind words, I'll be updating with the results of my biopsy this Friday if all goes well. :)

  3. I was out of town on vacation last week when you posted this, and am only now getting a chance to start catching up on all the blog posts I haven't read (so I've essentially missed almost two weeks of posts on a couple hundred blogs...yeah, I've been reading off and on for two days and my Google Reader still says 1000+ unread. :)

    I guess I'm one of those people you mention who've been reading your blog. I don't know when I started, but I've read every post that's listed in your archive.

    There's nothing a stranger can say to make anything at all better, except that we do care. I haven't read through any of your more recent posts yet - I clicked the link to jump straight here and comment - so if you've already posted a follow-up to this, I'll see it sometime this weekend, I'm sure. If not, could you let me know how your appointment went?


    1. I've been there, with 1000+ blog posts to catch up on and it is overwhelming! So thank you for taking the time to stop by and comment and give support. It means the world to me and helped me find a calm place to wait for my doctor's appointment. I haven't posted an update yet as I have a follow up appointment tomorrow for results of my biopsy. I will be posting an update on that. :)

      Again, thank you so much for reading my blog and for your awesome internet *hug*!

  4. Sorry to hear about this turn of events, and hopefully, it will just be a quick blip on the radar. Don't apologize for how you feel... ever. Our priorities change at different times in our lives, and sometimes, what was once important, no longer is. If you need to take a break from blogging about something "silly" like nails, you do what you want. We want you to be well and happy, and what ever that takes, we are here for you.

    1. Everything turned out well, I had a biopsy and it came back negative so I am still in remission! That makes it three years so the likelihood of a recurrence is slim, but it will always be important to remain vigilant in checking. If anything, this "close call" and the outpouring of support from the blogging community has cemented my love of this hobby. I had some mixed feelings I think, because I hadn't fully shared with my family and those closest to me. Now that I've shared this part of my life with my online family, and shared my blogging with my family (in full glorious disclosure) I realize that I enjoy and love the outlet it provides me! It isn't silly, I was angry. Angry at cancer for devaluing it in my eyes. But all is better now and I am free and clear of cancer!

      And thank you for the well wishes and support, every bit touches me and warms my heart.



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